Summary: I want to invite us to gather around one of the striking dynamics that is at hand within our world… that of financial uncertainty and insecurity.
This past week was certainly a significant one for our nation. This past Tuesday something of remarkable and historical proportions was experienced as the first black president was elected to lead our nation. It was a moment in which I gathered my two older kids… and tried to convey just how significant this was.
Of course there were many issues at hand… plenty that may have given reason to take heed or hope.
Whether this election causes you to take heed or take hope… or perhaps both, I was reminded how much I value gathering as a community identifies with a calling that transcends the limits of our national politics.
We are certainly are a nation deeply shaped by a Biblical worldview… and even Biblical convictions. That such principles have been a part of what has made this nation great is so clear. And as such… it is understandable that many would feel concerned if they see the nation drift away from those principles…. And positive if we see something reflect those principles.
But we never have been nor will be a country that establishes a common religion or belief. And this reminds us of what God had always intended us to be… a ‘distinct people’ (1 Peter 2:9)… an alternative redemptive community in the world. We must embrace that we gather as such… as a people who seek to be centered in God in ways that remain distinct… that permeate outward.
As such, I want to invite us to gather around one of the striking dynamics that is at hand within our world… that of financial uncertainty and insecurity.
Only two and a half days after being elected the next president… on Friday, President Elect Obama began his first press conference with these words… "This morning, we woke up to more sobering news about the state of our economy. . . . " and noting some of the latest news, stated that “we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and we’re going to have to act swiftly to resolve it.
Some of the news reported within just the past three days…
• Nation’s retailers saw sales that were the lowest for October since 1969. (http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-general/20081106/Retail.Sales/)
• A group of food price analyst announced that food prices will rise at least 7% in the coming year (2009). (http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-general/20081106/NEWS-US-USA-FOOD-PRICES/)
• This week…the Labor Department said the number of people continuing to draw unemployment benefits jumped to a 25-year high
There are broadly experienced feelings of uncertainty… and insecurity. It’s being felt in our nation, our world, and likely … at various levels… within ourselves.
I know that we don’t all feel this in the same way or at the same level… but there is a common underlying effect is at least some level of feeling less certain and secure about our financial resources.
I also know that it is an unfolding drama that is playing out. On one hand it involves constant psychological swings… driven by daily financial news, daily turns in the stock market, as well as this weeks election which may have been felt as a break in the focus… even a time of hope. But beneath the many daily swings also lies fundamental issues that are not likely to change anytime soon.
> There are losses that no new plan… and no new president are going to easily restore …dynamics that will likely bear far more long term changes.
How are we to navigate times of financial uncertainty and insecurity? What spiritual insight can help us find peace amidst such times?
I want to consider some of the spiritual principles which I believe are very timely for the times at hand.
We must understand that
I. There is a spiritual power attached to money.
Several year’s ago, Richard Foster wrote a book entitled “Money, Sex, and Power.” He captured well the centrality that these three aspects hold in terms of spiritual life. They are three of the most dominant issues which God speaks to…and which Jesus taught about. They are each powerful in trying to control us and corrupt us. However, they are actually each natural parts of God given life which only control and corrupt when they are experienced apart from God. When they replace God as the center… they devolve into something which is given spiritual power over us.
Those of us who at least seek to be more spiritually centered people… can become uncomfortable about money itself …as a topic.. as a part of our lives … similar to the way we are uncomfortable with the topic of sex. (We are planning a longer series on sexuality in a few months.)
What is so important to understand is that the power that money, sex, and control can have in our lives… is not a reflection of anything evil or shameful about them… but rather the power that is given to them when they operate apart from God.